Prince George Sports Hall of Fame

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Charlie Ghostkeeper.jpg

Charlie Ghostkeeper (2016)

Fastball Coach,Builder/Administrator

In practices, young Charlie Ghostkeeper was a pretty good ball player. Get him into a game and it was a different story.

When he was in the field, balls would regularly bounce off his glove. When he was at the plate, he'd usually make contact with the air and not much else.

But for countless kids in Prince George, and the city's entire Aboriginal community, Ghostkeeper's lack of prowess as a participant proved to be a blessing. Instead of playing sports, he focused his attention on organizing and coaching. In doing so, he became a sporting leader in northern B.C. and helped forge unbreakable bonds among his people.

Ghostkeeper was born in Grouard, Sask., on Dec. 10, 1938. As a youngster, he had a passion for sports but his playing career was sidelined by his game-day woes and by work commitments. By the age of 12, he already had a job at a lumber mill and, by 14, was doing construction.

When he was in his late teens, Ghostkeeper moved to Prince George. Once here, he soon realized recreational opportunities for the city's Aboriginal residents were limited and made it his mission to change things for the better.

In the 1960s, Ghostkeeper founded a native fastball tournament, one that has grown into an integral part of the local sports scene. Since its inception, it has been held every July long weekend. And the gathering isn't just about ball, it's a chance for Aboriginal people and families from across Western Canada to gather under the banner of sports.

Ghostkeeper also helped build the Spruce City Men's Fastball Association and assembled several men's teams that traveled across the province and country and played the game at a high level. Many players from that generation had kids of their own who took up fastball, and those kids ended up being the foundation of the Prince George River Kings program. In their day, the River Kings were a national powerhouse and may go down in history as the greatest Aboriginal fastball team ever.

As well as boosting the sport of fastball from an organizational standpoint, Ghostkeeper served as a coach and manager at the Canadian Native Fastball Championships and North American Aboriginal Fastball Championships.

While fastball was a true love, Ghostkeeper also founded a baseball league in the Hart Highway area of the city. The league grew from 25 teams, to 32, to 42 and was open to boys and girls, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.

Ghostkeeper didn't rest in the winter months. Instead, he threw himself into hockey. He founded the United Native Nations youth hockey tournament, which became an annual event and attracted players and families from around the region and province. And, each year, he took teams to Saskatchewan to skate in the Western Canadian Minor Aboriginal Hockey Championships, where he served as a coach and volunteer.

Ghostkeeper also did everything he could to make sport accessible for young people. He was manager of the Prince George Multicultural Recreation Society, which helped take away financial barriers for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth who wanted to get onto the field or ice.

For his contributions, Ghostkeeper was recognized with a City of Prince George Recreation Award of Merit in 1986. In 1994, he was presented with a Community Leadership Award from the Prince George Native Friendship Centre.

In 2012, Ghostkeeper passed away after a battle with cancer. But, he left behind a legacy in the number of lives he influenced in a positive way.

"Good things can happen when you give kids a chance," he once said.

It is with great pride that the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame welcomes Ghostkeeper in the coach and builder category.


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